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Friends and unfolding ambition

My daughter has two college friends from Florida visiting. Actually, they’re our friends too, considering they were students in our school for years and very involved in dance. It’s been fun having them here. Yesterday, after showing them our land and house and giving them the general Georgia initiation, Mark took them four wheeling. They were nervous at first, but Danielle said, “I just kept saying to myself that I knew Mark would never put me in danger.” I think she is one of the last students we had that absolutely trusted us, and it was lovely to think she still does. Cute.


     When we returned to the cabin, Mark walked them down to the creek. They sat waist deep in the water and laughed about old FLEX memories. We went to a Mexican restaurant that night and I did my usual annoying thing of picking their brain about what they want out of life and how they plan to make their dreams unfold. I’ve learned new things about these kids. It’s delightful to talk about something other than dance to find out who they are beyond that element. Interesting.


     Today, Denver had to work in the afternoon so I took them riding. Funny, but I imagined Erica to be the prissy one, and Danielle to be sportier, but in reality, Erica has an outdoorsmen heart (and former experience riding horses, white water rafting, etc…) so my expectations were off the mark. Erica got on Goliath as naturally as she would have stood at a ballet barre, (OK – she wasn’t much of a ballerina so that is a bad comparison. Let’s say she was as natural as she would have been in tap shoes) and Danielle thought, “If she can do this, so can I.” So, she got on Dixie and followed directions to figure out how to steer this live creature to get around.  We rode through a short wooded path, then out onto a field. Erica wanted to go faster, so she galloped along, and Danielle followed suit. I was quite impressed. Most people are slower to get their bearings when trying something new (especially horses, because they can be intimidating) but Danielle revealed a willingness to adventure. It was nice, walking along in the sun pointing out blackberry bushes and talking about all we hope to do with the land with some of my young, dear dance friends. In a way, it blurs the boundaries of the old life with the new, and that feels natural. I haven’t understood this concept that I must sever all connection with my past (not our choice, but an unfortunate reality). Anyway, sharing a day introducing our new world to old friends was nice.


       Tonight they will experience their first drive-in movie with Denver. I’ll be home doing homework. I offered them a six-pack for the car and they looked at me like I was insane, laughed, and said, “You think we want to sit around in a car by ourselves and drink beer?” I don’t know, I thought that was what college kids did. That’s what I did in high school. I guess what was cool in my day is stupid and geeky now. Ha. Figures.        


       They will be here a few more days. I’m enjoying it.


     They just asked me if I was blogging and when I said yes, they got all giggly and curious, trying to look over my shoulder at the computer screen. Ha. Then, I won’t say more about them (yet). Hard to blog in the very room they sleep.


       Speaking of high school, I need to back pedal on my upcoming reunion. It has been pointed out to me that my 30th reunion is not until next year. I’m not as old as I pretend. I don’t know why I was sent the 1976 graduating class info, except that I did have lots of upperclassmen as friends. Ah well. My best wishes to that class, whoever they are. I have a year till I make the big three – o. I’m not officially ancient till next year.


     


    New subject:  I found a building I want to buy. It’s big, 10K square feet (as big as the first FLEX) yet looks small for it is a two story brick building nestled against the road on the main drag in Mc Caysville where the Scenic Railroad stops. The downstairs has a lovely wood floor and wooden knee walls. It is in good shape. The upstairs needs to be gutted and remodeled. That area could be apartments for rent or a store space. I keep thinking of all we could do with it – especially if we give Mark free reign to do his thang. He is the visionary in this all things relying on design. I imagine a café downstairs with an art gallery exquisitely laid out, and the back area a furniture store with handmade rustic furniture (Mark’s art) and artifacts for cabins. We could then have a community room upstairs for reading or writing groups or other community meetings, (we’ll serve the coffee). Perhaps we could use the space for a publishing office too, because I am thinking of starting a small magazine – selling ad space to support it – something artistic and entertaining for “half-backs” (those zillions of mountain visitors from Florida). My mind is on a roll, circling all the possibilities around and around.


    Mark is interested too, yet he feels it is too soon. He wants us to finish the house before we start a new project (and he is right). Nevertheless, I did some research on the internet and found a company that makes consulting videos and research material for people wanting to open a coffee and specialty drink shop. I then found some information on how to run a successful art gallery. I’m fascinated. I’m now beginning my research, just to piece together what this endeavor would be all about.   I will write a business plan and begin the process of educating myself on this kind of business – all the pros and cons. That takes time. Of course, by the time I am done, this building will be gone – but you never know. What is meant to be will be.  Anyway, I feel energized and excited about tackling a new horizon. And sitting with a cup of coffee, reading about the coffee business has a certain poignant perfection.


  I have always wanted to surround myself with what I love. Now, my world is about reading, writing, art and nature. What better way to blend it all? 


   My dad said, “Why would you want to open an arts café? You won’t make a lot – it’s more for a retired person wanting to supplement their income.” Then he paused and said, “Well I guess you qualify.”


      That might be true, but I also think he is underestimating what we can do with a store/café.  We are remarkably creative and we can stretch resources beyond normal limits. Look what we did with dance (we didn’t own a normal dance studio – we ended up with an empire that included stores, preschools, educational products etc…  It ended up making more (and ended up with a business worth more) than any studio I’ve ever known of in my 35 years in this business.) I have already thought of dozens of ways to make our new enterprise unique. It could be a springboard for some exciting artistic avenues– and who knows, we might build a new empire, something unlike other café/galleries. It might be a home for publications, an on-line rustic furniture and Appalachian arts resource, home to arts exhibits, or who knows what.


     The point is, life feels more vivid when we are creative. And challenges are good for the soul. I am drawn to the idea of a new adventure, but that doesn’t mean I should leap (now). Sigh. I just have to get finished with school and slow down a bit to be sure I know what I want next. I have to finish my book. And it has to be right for Mark too. He needs some breathing time before I load him up with a new project. What is the point of success if you’re going to kill your spouse in the striving for it? He is so overwrought with things to do and handle, I worry.


   Gotta keep your priorities straight and remember what is most important in life, and business isn’t first on the list. I won’t make that mistake ever again.


   But that doesn’t mean I can’t start reading – planning- thinking outside of the box.


    Eeek.  Time to go. An emergency has occurred. Our dog was just bitten by a copperhead snake and his face is swollen and he’s sick. Gee – living in the mountains is never boring. I will fill you in on the gory details tomorrow!  


     

About Ginny East Shaddock

Director of Heartwood Retreat Center, Ginny is also a writer. This is her personal blog with essay form writing about life and reflection. My entries are often lengthy and random, because I'm not here to promote or sell anything. I'm not expecting followers - just find this format a good place to think with the pen.

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